World Bank approves Shs182bn loan for Uganda’s desert locust response

The World Bank said on Thursday its board approved a low-interest loan to support Uganda’s desert locus response and strengthen its emergency response systems.

A statement issued by the global lender said it is providing Uganda with $48 million (Shs181.7bn) in financial assistance to help Uganda alleviate the impact of the desert locust outbreak on livelihoods and to fortify its regional and national disaster preparedness mechanisms.

“The Emergency Locust Response Program will help Uganda monitor and manage locust swarms to limit the growth of existing and new desert locust populations; provide livelihood protection and restoration to affected households, communities and vulnerable groups; and improve coordination and early warning preparedness at the regional and national levels to strengthen national capacities for surveillance, response and preparedness to prevent future infestations,” said the statement.

It added that the project “is expected to support 950,000 direct beneficiaries and about 1,200,000 indirect beneficiaries in the locust-affected districts,” with priority to be given to women and youth.

In February, locust swarms arriving from Kenya invaded eastern Uganda and eventually spread to 24 districts. Experts say the swarms devour green vegetation and pose a serious threat to food security in the areas they invade.

“The locust invasion could coincide with the start of the planting season, which will likely affect the main staple crop production and the regeneration of grasslands for livestock feeds. These resources are timely to support affected households cope, and to strengthen government’s response efforts,” Tony Thompson, the bank’s country manager, said.

The loan will be provided by the International Development Association, the bank’s arm that makes grants and low-interest loans to lower-income countries. It is part of $500m approved by the bank to help countries in Africa — including Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti — and the Middle East fight the locust swarms.

Uganda already received $1m (Shs3.7bn) from another project financed by the World Bank “to address gaps in locust management measures undertaken by the government,” it said.